Oedipus el Rey – “Flat Out Fantastic!”; SpinCity – “Buzzin Around Town”

by Buzzin' Lee Hartgrave on February 12, 2010


O.K. HERE’S MY ADVICE. JUST ROUGH RIDE THIS ONE. Cause, this is not Boy Scout stuff. You know the story of Oedipus. His father practically throws him away after damaging the boy’s feet – he grows up and becomes a streetwise kid, who angles to be a King. Along the way there is a lot of bloodletting, Breast Baring and total nudity. The would be King (he is 17). The older woman, who he has a hankering for is his mother, but he does not know that. He seduces her — not aware that he was mounting his own mother. She may suspect that he is her son, but she doesn’t try to stop him.

In the background is the most interesting Guitar music and variations that you will ever hear. The throbbing of the music almost drives you to incitement.

In this whirlwind of a play the temperature rises along with writhing limbs and heaving breasts (female and male.) Fans, anyone? This re-imagined Greek Classic (now Latino) is not for the easily shocked. No, this is hard hitting stuff that is knarly and macho. Would be Kings jangle ‘their’ things between their legs to get to be the top man.

I have to say that this is the most realistic play that I have ever seen in my long Career of reviewing. Lewis Alfaro, the playwright has just made hip-hop mainstream. The streets have never felt so threatening as the struggle for supremacy makes veins in arms almost ready to pop out.

Shirts are thrown on the ground. No, it’s not Laundry Time. It’s show-off time. And, they have plenty to show. Hey, even great actors have to give the people what they want. This cast of Actors are “Absolutely the most terrific actors in the world. “That is fact and not fiction!”

Now, you might think – “It couldn’t be that good.” Sorry to disappoint you. It is THAT F%*#%ng good. No – better than good. Let’s see, what’s the word: It’s F- -ng “Brilliant!!!!

THE PLAYERS ARE: JOSHUA TORREZ (Oedipus) is the best actor of the year – he’s Riveting! ROMI DIAS (Jocasta) Oedipus’s Mom is unforgettable! Carlos Aguirre, Eric Aviles, Marc David Pinate and Armando Rodriquez — are all in the (Coro) – The Chorus. But, they are so much more. They act, they threaten, the set the tone of the play. And they certainly make it the dazzling spectacular triumph that it is.

Loretta Greco’s Direction is fabulous. She brings out the Raw and Riveting performances “that make this an experience you won’t soon forget!”

I plan to see it again!


RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) – trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook Section and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

Tim Hockenberry. Courtesy: Richmond Ermet Foundation.


One Witch is leaving on her Broom (Teal Wicks) and another is flying in (Eden Espnosa), who has performed the role of the Green Witch on Broadway to great acclaim. Kendra Kassebaum (the Good Witch) remains with the SF show. The musical is still shattering records from San Francisco to New York.

42nd Moon will have an Ira Gershwin Celebration with the Ira Gershwin “Lady, Be Good!” It was the first big hit for the Gershwin Brothers. In the original, Fred and Adele Astaire starred (Brother and Sister). And the musical is about a brother and sister who encounter madcap adventures and wealth. It’s roaring twenties – and you’ll have trouble sitting still. Catchy tunes. Previews start on March 31. Chris Smith, famed director will be directing.

Wildly pop fashion designer Alexander McQueen has committed suicide. Reason is not known yet.

On Feb. 24, a new updated “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” The Bertolt Brecht masterpiece has been given a new design and a world premiere translation by A.C.T. Associate Artist Domenique Lozano. And there is original music by acclaimed San Francisco Composer Nathaniel Stookey. Opens. Feb. 24, 2010. http://www.act-sf.org/.

Justin Bond comes back to The Rrazz Room (March 12 & 13). He loves the Carpenters – and morphs into them and their music. Always a wonderful treat! http://www.therrazzroom.com/.

“All You Need Is Love 2” was a big smash hit. Tim Hockenberry just gets better and better. His voice sounds like it was rinsed in every gutter in the City. Hey, that’s a good thing. He sure is unique.

Leslie Jordan may be short – but he has big, big talent. Jordan kept the audience rolling with his insightful tales of his travels and the people he meets. You know what they say – “Big things – come in small packages.” Now, you can interpret any way you like. Jordan has won many awards – and he deserves every one of them. What a talent!

Nick Lazzarini is a dancers dancer. He slickly slides around the stage like it was easy. But, to do the things that he does with his body would put you and me in emergency. How can a dancer by so light on his feet, and look so masculine? Slight of feet maybe?

La Toya London is always mesmerizing. And if she survived American Idol – she proved once again that she is a real trouper. Not only does she look great – but her voice gets better each time I hear her sing.

Maureen McGovern is a singer that can take an old standard and give it a new wrapping. It was a joy to hear her sing again. Rita Moreno ends the show with style and grace and emotion. The audience almost clapped their hands raw.

Maria Maldaur is one of those interesting talents that keep you interested. She is truly masterful. You hang onto every note. Then there was David Burnham, charming everyone in the building with his terrific voice and stunning eyes. He came out to the audience and flirted with a couple of guys. All in fun – and besides having that wonderful personality, he is exceptionally talented and handsome.

Carly Ozard is delightfully sinister and a little bit crazy. Loved every movement and every note. She made the audience very happy.

These are just a few of the highlights of the fabulous evening. And many thanks go out to The Musical Directors, Richard Berent and Bill Keck. These shows for various charities could not be possible without the hard work of Joe Seiler & Ken Henderson (Producers of The Richmond Ermet Foundation. Next up will be their fantastic show at the Herbst Theatre. They are working on it now.

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The Photo of Lee Hartgrave Boy Reporter is by Jim Ferreira – Film Noir & Hollywood Glamour. www.lafterhall.com.

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Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave

Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave is a longtime theater critic in the San Francisco Bay Area. His reviews appear each Friday in Beyond Chron.

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